WHAT IS A JUDO TECHNICIAN?
By Mark Lonsdale
No, it is not someone who fixes broken judoka, that’s the job of the professionals at Falcon Physical Therapy. A judo technician is a judoka who explores judo techniques in depth and beyond the superficial pictures seen in most books. Apart from being recognized as a competent instructor, every judoka above the rank of brown belt should aspire to be a good technician.
A judo technician should:
- Know all the techniques required for his or her rank (and beyond)
- Be able to demonstrate those techniques in a smooth, balanced, and proficient manner
- Understand and be able to explain the bio-mechanics of each technique
- Be able to build a family of techniques around any given technique (standing or on the ground)
- Be able to demonstrate the logical transitions from standing techniques (tachi-waza) into ground techniques (newaza, osaekomi-waza, shime-waza, or kansetsu-waza)
For those readers unfamiliar with the term “family of techniques,” it is the process of developing a number of techniques to setup a particular throw, and the combinations (renraku-waza) that can flow on from the primary attack if or when it fails.
A setup is essentially a feint, or false attack, used to move an opponent in a particular direction, or elicit a specific response, so as to off balance Uke sufficiently for the intended attack to work. An example would be a minimally applied ashi-waza (leg or ankle attack) such as sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi, used to transition immediately into a major throw such as tai-otoshi (body drop). Similarly, any perceived attack to the rear will invariably setup an opponent for a throw to the front, and vice-a-versa.
A combination, on the other hand, is a series of attacks where each individual technique is applied with full force, with the intention of throwing Uke, but when one fails, Tori flows immediately into the next committed attack. Common examples would be ouchi-gari to uchi-mata; osoto-gari to haria-goshi; and ippon-seoi-nage to kouchi-maki-komi. The key difference between a setup and a combination is that each attack in a combination is a committed attack.
A good judo technician will have a dozen setups and combinations built around any single primary technique, plus several counters (kaeshi-waza) using that technique or against that technique. To complete the family, a technician will also know all the transitions from a standing technique or counter into newaza or ground attacks. For example, hip throws transition nicely into kuzure-kesa-gatame or yoko-shiho-gatame; a full shoulder throw will land Uke in a position that invites kami-shiho-gatame; and tomoe-nage transitions easily into tate-shiho-gatame (with Tori doing a backward roll).
To conclude, a judo technician should be a serious student of all aspects of traditional judo and one who thrives on teaching what he or she has learned. Judo technicians are the gate-keepers of good judo, responsible for maintaining the traditions and standards of JUDO – recreation, sport, self defense, philosophy, and lifestyle.
For additional reading on this subject, see JUDO UNLEASHED by Neil Ohlenkamp; and TRAINING FOR COMPETITION JUDO by Hayward Nishioka. Both detail numerous combinations built around the most common techniques.
Mark Lonsdale is a USJF and USA Judo National Coach; a former international competitor, and can be contacted at: JudoTrainingDevelopment@gmail.com